The rules committee (reglementencommissie) of the Dutch/Netherlands national petanque federation (NJBB) has prepared a set of rules interpretations that are binding for umpires in the Netherlands. The committee took a copy of the official Dutch translation of the FIPJP rules (in Dutch, the REGLEMENT voor de PETANQUESPORT, RPS) and added interpretive comments. Hence the name of the document— RPS Plus comments.
Many of the comments are in a question/answer format. One of them is especially interesting. Here is a VERY rough translation that I cobbled together using the Google and Bing translators and a lot of guesswork.
Can I mark my boules with a marker or paint?
That is not allowed.
According to article 2, nothing about boules may be changed. Tampering with a boule may involve more than just heating or mechanical operations on the iron. It may also involve painting and inking. Applying a coat of paint or ink can affect the properties of a boule. For example, a boule may be rougher [to provide a better grip?].
According to article 16, paragraph 5, anything adhering to a boule must be stripped off before the boule is thrown. This includes not only mud and leaves, but also paints, inks and the like.
In the past, paint was used to hide holes that had been drilled in boules, in order to tamper with the boules. For that reason the FIPJP explicitly prohibits use of paint and the like.
[The following paragraph appeared in the notes on the 2010 rules, and was considerably revised for the 2016 rules. Here are both versions.]
[2010 version] Occasionally, especially during big tournaments, the competition organizer may require boules to be colored in order to improve their visibility to the viewing public. In such cases, in order to avoid the kind of abuse of paint described above, the coloring of the boules will be done by the competition organizer. This is technically incorrect, but it is tolerated for the sake of promoting the sport.
[2016 version] There is an increasing interest in playing with colored boules in order to make it easier for spectators (the viewing public) to follow the game. If in the future manufacturers produce colored boules (boules colored at the factory), and those boules are approved by the FIPJP, they are obviously permitted here too.
For friendly(mutual?) games and smaller (regional) tournaments, a modest amount of marking may be applied to boules (for example, using a marker to add colored dots or dashes to the striage lines), provided that doing so does not change the playing properties of the boule.
What is interesting is what seems to be the NJBB’s primary reason for objecting to any kind of paint, anywhere on a boule.
In the past, paint was used to hide holes that had been drilled in boules, in order to tamper with the boules.
In the old days, when players would try to “stuff” a boule by drilling a hole in the boule and injecting mercury, they would drill the hole where it would be least conspicuous: somewhere in the striations or lettering on the boule. A favorite place was inside the letter “0” or inside a zero. So paint on a boule was likely to be especially suspicious if it was in the striations.
So, in a sense, the pre-2016 interpretation allowed players to play with “colored” boules. But we need to be careful of our wording here. Just describing a boule as “colored” isn’t enough. The pre-2016 interpretation allowed the use of colored boules if and only if the boules were not colored before the competition, and were then colored by the competition organizer. In a high-level competition, a player would never be allowed to use boules that he had colored himself.